WRKF News

The House Ways and Means Committee started working through several revenue-raising bills Monday, including one that would increase the cigarette tax.

There was the expected health related testimony.

“In Louisiana, more than 22 percent of adults and 12 percent of youth smoke cigarettes — the only product that, when used as directed, will kill half of all its users,” said Dr. Michael Johnson, director of Louisiana Tobacco-Free Living.

“When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.” The naval adage, quoted in Wouk’s 1951 “The Caine Mutiny” and again in Heinlein’s 1973 “Time Enough for Love”, pretty well describes the current status of both the state budget and legislative action.


One of Lafayette’s rising stars, blues rocker Lane Mack, released his self-titled debut earlier this month, and it hit No. 2 on the iTunes blues charts.

After his son was born, Mack says he wanted to record a collection of his own songs rooted in the blues and Cajun music he was raised on.


The four major candidates for governor participated in a forum Thursday, put on by the Public Affairs Research Council in Baton Rouge. Scott Angelle, Jay Dardenne and John Bel Edwards each appeared in person, while David Vitter participated via pre-recorded video.

Predictably, they sniped at Governor Bobby Jindal.


Following Ladies of Liberty and Founding Mothers, NPR and ABC News regular Cokie Roberts has written another book giving women in American history credit where credit is due.

The latest, Capital Dames, looks at the Civil War and the Women of Washington, D.C. from 1848-1868.


As lawmakers wrap up week two of the fiscal session, their efforts to steer the budget bus keep hitting curbs. Now they’re starting to exhibit some road rage.

In the Senate Education Committee Wednesday, a bill that would uncouple TOPS scholarship amounts from future college tuition hikes — in order to contain the cost to the state — drew opposition from the administration.

“This legislation would negatively impact the program,” Jindal policy advisor Stafford Palmieri stated, “Because we’ve broken our promise to fully pay for their tuition to go to college.”

“You oppose this plan?” Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor asked. “Then show us your plan. How do you propose to support higher education?”


In the worry over a potential 82 percent state funding cut for higher education, there has been a recurrent theme: more autonomy.

“One of the things we’ve asked for are autonomies,” Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Rallo has said on several occasions. They would allow us — whether it’s audits or procurements — to go out there in the marketplace and get some competitive bids.”

A bill that would grant some of those autonomies, HB 766 by Gretna Rep. Bryan Adams, was heard in House Education Tuesday afternoon.


The House Appropriations Committee has advanced a bill that would keep highway dollars committed to road work by limiting how much can be shifted to State Police.

“Throughout this state, the common theme is that the legislators have raided the Transportation Trust Fund for other needs,” said New Iberia Rep. Terry Landry, in explaining reasons for authoring HB 208.

Landry said one of those reasons is not any kind of problem with the Department of Public Safety or Louisiana State Police.

Tax bills are on the agenda this week, in both the House and the Senate, and Governor Bobby Jindal says he’ll have his Secretary of Revenue and Commissioner of Administration watching the process closely.

“Tim Barfield and Kristy (Nichols) absolutely will be in committee and available to provide our perspective on these bills,” Jindal told reporters late last week.


Robert Travis Scott
Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana

The first week of the 2015 state legislative session is in the books.

The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana recently put out a guide to the budget crisis lawmakers are grappling with. And PAR President, Robert Travis Scott, is following along as the budgeting process unfolds.


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